How Long to Recover From Total Knee Replacement

Feb 13, 2019

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This is one of the most frequently asked questions by individuals considering knee replacement surgery. Other common questions are when can I drive again and when can I return to work?

In reality, the rate of recovery will be different for each individual and will depend on a number of factors.

It is important to consider things such as…

Type of Surgery

Individuals with partial knee replacements or who have minimally invasive surgery will, in most instances, have a much quicker recovery. If you have a double knee replacement or additional surgeries, your recovery will likely be slower.

Different comorbidities

or personal factors may delay recovery, such as being overweight, cardiovascular impairments, osteoporosis, or fractures.

Complications

Unfortunately, sometimes complications do occur such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) or nerve damage.

Physical ability prior to surgery

Individuals with greater range of motion and strength prior to surgery usually experience a faster recovery after surgery.

Pain management

Each person will experience different levels of pain after surgery. A multi-modal approach to pain management is used to limit the negative impacts of pain on your recovery and healing.

With that in mind, here is a general timeline to expect with post-surgical recovery from a total knee replacement.
Walking: Day 1. You will be up and walking, usually with the assistance of a walker, the same day after your surgery.

Discharge from Hospital: Day 3. Most individuals will be discharged from the hospital to either home or an inpatient rehab facility within 3 days after surgery.

Begin outpatient physical therapy: Within 1-2 weeks post-surgery. You may receive home health physical therapy for a brief time, but as soon as you are able to, you will begin outpatient physical therapy.

Incision removal: Your staples or stitches are removed at about 2 weeks post-op.

Walking without an assistive device: usually within a few weeks, if not sooner

Driving: May take as little as 4 weeks, but usually your MD will clear you for driving at 6-8 weeks.

Return to Work: 4-6 weeks for a desk job and approximately 4-12 weeks for more physically demanding jobs

Return to normal daily activities: approximately 12 weeks. If you participate in more dynamic recreational activities such as golf, tennis, or jogging, this may take a little longer to return to (12-16 weeks).

Full Recovery: This may be referred to as achieving a status that is better than your status pre-surgery. This may take up to 6 months for a full recovery.

Hopefully, this provides you a general timeline for your recovery from total knee replacement surgery. The key is to be patient and understand that everyone progresses at their own rate. As long as you listen to and follow the instructions from your surgeon and physical therapists, you will most likely have a full and successful recovery!

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